going back to africa

Reunifying African diaspora across the Americas with each other, their pride, history, culture, true homes & identity…

Archive for the tag “Vogue magazine cover”

White Fragility 3

Racial Belonging
White people enjoy a deeply internalized, largely unconscious sense of racial belonging in U.S. society. This racial belonging is instilled via the whiteness embedded in the culture at large. Everywhere we look, we see our own racial image reflected back to us – in our heroes & heroines, in standards of beauty, in our role-models & teachers, in our textbooks &historical memory, in the media, in religious iconography including the image of God himself, etc. In virtually any situation or image deemed valuable in dominant society, whites belong. Indeed, it is rare for most whites to experience a sense of not belonging & such experiences are usually very temporary, easily avoidable situations. Racial belonging becomes deeply internalized & taken for granted.

In dominant society, interruption of racial belonging is rare & thus destabilizing & frightening to whites. Whites consistently choose & enjoy racial segregation. Living, working & playing in racial segregation is unremarkable as long as it is not named or made explicitly intentional. For example, in many anti-racist endeavors, a common exercise is to separate into caucus groups by race in order to discuss issues specific to your racial group & without the pressure or stress of other groups’ presence. Generally, PoC appreciate this opportunity for racial fellowship, but white people typically become very uncomfortable, agitated & upset – even though this temporary separation is in the service of addressing racism.


Responses include a disorienting sense of themselves as not just people, but most particularly white people; a curious sense of loss about this contrived & temporary separation which they don’t feel about the real & on-going segregation in their daily lives & anxiety about not knowing what is going on in the groups of color. The irony, again, is that most whites live in racial segregation every day & in fact, are the group most likely to intentionally choose that segregation (albeit obscured in racially coded language such as seeking “good schools” & “good neighborhoods”). This segregation is unremarkable until it is named as deliberate – i.e. “We are now going to separate by race for a short exercise.”I posit that it is the intentionality that is so disquieting – as long as we don’t mean to separate, as long as it “just happens” that we live segregated lives, we can maintain a (fragile) identity of racial innocence.

Psychic freedom
Because race is constructed as residing in PoC, whites don’t bear the social burden of race. We move easily through our society without a sense of ourselves as racialized subjects. We see race as operating when PoC are present, but all-white spaces as “pure” spaces – untainted by race vis á vis the absence of the carriers of race (& thereby the racial polluters) – PoC. This perspective is perfectly captured in a familiar white statement, “I was lucky. I grew up in an all-white neighborhood so I didn’t learn anything about racism.” In this discursive move, whiteness gains its meaning through its purported lack of encounter with non-whiteness.

 Because racial segregation is deemed socially valuable while simultaneously unracial & unremarkable, we rarely, if ever, have to think about race & racism & receive no penalty for not thinking about it. In fact, whites are more likely to be penalized (primarily by other whites) for bringing race up in a social justice context than for ignoring it (however, it is acceptable to bring race up indirectly & in ways that reinforce racist attitudes, i.e. warning other whites to stay away from certain neighborhoods, etc.). This frees whites from carrying the psychic burden of race.

 Race is for PoC to think about – it is what happens to “them” – they can bring it up if it is an issue for them (although if they do, we can dismiss it as a personal problem, the “race card”, or the reason for their problems). This allows whites to devote much more psychological energy to other issues & prevents us from developing the stamina to sustain attention on an issue as charged & uncomfortable as race.

Constant messages that we are more valuable – through representation in everything
Living in a white dominant context, we receive constant messages that we are better & more important than PoC. These messages operate on multiple levels & are conveyed in a range of ways. For example: our centrality in history textbooks, historical representations & perspectives; our centrality in media & advertising (i.e., a recent Vogue magazine cover boldly stated, “The World’s Next Top Models” – every woman on the front cover was white); our teachers, role-models, heroes & heroines; everyday discourse on “good” neighborhoods & schools & who is in them; popular TV shows centered around friendship circles that are all white (i.e. Friends, Seinfeld); religious iconography that depicts God, Adam & Eve & other key figures as white, commentary on new stories about how shocking any crime is that occurs in white suburbs & the lack of a sense of loss about the absence of PoC in most white people’s lives. While one may explicitly reject the notion that one is inherently better than another, one cannot avoid internalizing the message of white superiority, as it is ubiquitous in mainstream culture.
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Continued below: See White Fragility 4

Even if you in a Benz – you’re still a N*GGER….

busy2

A line from one the infamous Kanye West’s older tracks that holds true in the beliefs of many American’s today, which they’ve continued to prove to the World over & over again.That no matter how educated, well-mannered, successful, or well-liked African people may be, they will never, ever be recognized or treated as equals by their counterparts.

Kanye was widely criticized & praised for expressing his true feelings about our then POTUS, George Bush, claiming that Bush did not care about black people due to his handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Was he right? Is this not also true of many other powerful, affluent, respected people throughout the country? Is this not an issue, despite if those notions are kept private, that can negatively impact us all?

cleoo

This is an old USA military recruitment poster during America’s war with Germany (cir.,1917), depicting a German soldier as a gorilla… Then a cover of Vogue magazine & you can clearly see what they’ve done here using LeBron James & model Gisele Bundchen… Times have changed, but mindsets certainly have not! Despite LeBron’s huge career success & maintaining his good guy image, as you see here for yourself, he is still believed to be a lesser, subhuman being to many people.

busy1Like Donald Sterling, for instance. Although he invested a lot money & time into in a business that is made up of a majority of men from African descent, he doesn’t want to be associated with them, nor does he want anyone he associates with to either. He owned the team. Doesn’t that remind you of slavery, somewhat? A white man “employing” black people, tells them where they can live, what they can & cannot do, dress codes, curfews, contracts, etc.. Is that not, at least in part, parallel to owning someone? Almost all NBA teams are owned by white men. The players make lots of money, but the owners still make more & for far longer. Most NBA careers do not last any longer than 5-10yrs, but coaching for decades or owning a team usually lasts for a lifetime, wealth that they can pass on to their families. And the monies generated from merchandising & advertisements? The money the players are making doesn’t really quite compare. Yes, of course, this is how most corporations work, however these involve very touchy ethical issues.

busy

Rich Nevada Rancher, Clive Bundy employs an African man as a bodyguard, who even after hearing remarks Bundy made regarding poor Africans in America, said that he would still take a bullet for him! Bundy fired some people up with his perspective:

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.

“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”

Putting the racial aspect of his comments aside for a moment, this could be true of any persons using gov’t subsidies. On the other hand, although it may be hard to admit, Sterling & Bundy did make some valid points, regarding the lack of unity in African communities in America, the slaying of our unborn (not too long ago, abortion was killing more African people than the top seven leading causes – combined) & the generations of Africans who have become comfortable with living off of subsidies for their entire lifetime. These are very real & very serious issues plaguing our communities that need to be addressed. Africans in America do not have the overall sense of pride they once did back during the Civil Rights era. We desperately need that fire again!! Just because there are millions out there who will never see or respect us as their equals doesn’t mean we can’t treat & see each other as such!!!

mandela

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